As a nurse, I was taught that grief was dealt with in stages. Five to be exact: Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining, and Acceptance. And that those stages followed a linear path with a beginning a middle and an end.
I found myself always checking in, what stage am I in now? Did I do something wrong? I don’t remember feeling angry? Did I skip right to depression? I wanted to do grief “right” so that I could quickly go through the stages and move on with my life.
In reality, nothing was farther from the truth. There was no predictability. There were no stages. It was messy and unpredictable. And feelings froze at unpredictable times. Like my pipes in mid-April with a late polar vortex.
Grief overwhelmed me at the Fleet Farm next to the gladiola bulbs and when someone talked about chocolate cake.
Crying jags were triggered unexpectedly and came in no particular order. They came and went at their whim and there was nothing linear or tidy about them. I learned to focus on survival. What do I need at this moment to move forward?
And breathe, just breathe.